The LBL-led STAR detector collaboration experiment passed a major hurdle last week when a DOE-sponsored review culminated in a recommendation to fund the $31.5 million construction project. Funding will be spread over a 5-year period starting this fiscal year.
"I am delighted that the hard work by members of the STAR collaboration has resulted in the official start of the project," said James Symons, Nuclear Science Division (NSD) head. "I am also pleased that NSD will be playing the leading role in both the construction of the detector and analysis of the experiment. With our collaborators at Brookhaven National Laboratory and elsewhere, we have a great opportunity for scientific discovery."
Said STAR project manager Bill Edwards, a mechanical engineer in LBL's Engineering Division, "The review went even better than we expected. We received a high degree of praise and all of the signatures required for final approval by DOE are in place."
STAR stands for Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC--the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider now being built at Brookhaven National Laboratory that is expected to begin operating in the fall of 1997. The first of two large- scale detectors intended for RHIC, STAR is being designed to identify and measure hadrons, particles that interact through the strong force. STAR will also be used to study the highly energetic particle "jets" produced when quarks or gluons collide head on. Both functions will contribute to RHIC's overall mission of creating and studying "quark matter"--the state of matter scientists think was dominant about one microsecond after the Big Bang and is still present in the cores of neutron stars.
Nearly 200 scientists and engineers, representing some 26 institutions here and abroad, are participating in the STAR collaboration, which is led by John Harris, a physicist in LBL's Nuclear Science Division. Jay Marx, also with NSD, is the project director who will oversee construction.
The review of STAR last week was a joint DOE/RHIC exercise that focused on costs and schedules. It was carried out by a committee of 13 reviewers chaired by Bernhard Mecking from the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility. There were also observers from RHIC, DOE's Office of Nuclear Physics, and the DOE Brookhaven Area Office.
The STAR baseline design that has been approved for construction calls for a large volume Time Projection Chamber in a solenoidal magnetic field. Work to design and construct a silicon vertex tracker to go inside this TPC is presently being funded by RHIC. Later upgrades already planned for STAR will include a time-of-flight detector, an electromagnetic calorimeter, and external TPCs.
LBL will be primarily responsible for designing and constructing the large volume TPC and a significant portion of STAR's electronics.